How I Know I’m Here

I’m at Mama and Daddy’s house for a couple of days, and since I left Birmingham pretty early this morning, I am just as tickled as I can be that it’s almost time for bed. In fact, I was just thinking about how delightful it would be if I were sound asleep by 9, but I’m going to stay awake a little longer and maybe work on some writing.

And when I say “writing,” what I really mean is “watch House Hunters.”

I know I need to be productive, but words and sentences and chapters feel like a big commitment right now.


After supper tonight I was putting a few things in the dishwasher when something that will forever and always remind me of Mama and Daddy’s house caught my eye for about the fourth time today.


An open, well-loved cookbook – with notes.

In case you can’t see it, this note says that Mama made Italian Cream Cake five times in square pans for Family Night Supper. AS YOU DO.

But really, isn’t it funny how just one little thing can immediately let us know that we are in the presence of our people?

Here’s another one.


I don’t think we even have a phonebook at our house in Birmingham, but at Mama and Daddy’s the phonebook is always visible and almost always folded back. Even the sound of someone turning phone book pages reminds me of my parents’ house.

So does a decorated laundry room.


You know what my laundry room looks like?

It looks like the place where organizational embarrassment went to die.

Clearly I have betrayed my strong laundry room heritage.

And then there’s the sight of stuff taped inside the kitchen cabinets.


If I have ever taped anything inside my own kitchen cabinets, I don’t remember it. But Mama? She loves a kitchen cabinet reminder. And she likes to make sure that reminder stays there by GOING TO TOWN with the Scotch tape.

Not even Scotch tape can top Mama’s love for this next thing, though.


Stunt pillows. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you spend the night with anyone in my family, you’re gonna work to turn back a bed. You may even break a sweat (not with the bed in this picture, necessarily, but I would consider it an introductory level stunt pillow situation). Maybe it’s a family thing, or maybe it’s a Southern thing, or maybe it’s just a crazy thing, but we believe in pillow shams, we believe in throw pillows, we believe in neck rolls, and heaven knows we believe in pillow formations.

Exclamation point. And amen.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

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  1. Stunt pillows! I love it. And that bed is darlin’. Darlin plus!

    And Sophie, my laundry room would probably give yours a run for it’s money. I see these cute signs for laundry rooms and organizational videos on youtube, and I wonder where I went wrong in the area of laundry room decor/organization. I need a sign that says “enter at your own risk” or possibly crime scene tape for my laundry room!

  2. It’s the little things. And well….also the stunt pillows. There are enough pillows in my guest bedroom to comfort a herd of elephants.

  3. Rosanne Green says:

    I could definitely mirror every one of those at my mom’s house. (Except laundry.) Sadly, at 85 with some memory loss issues, she is often sobbing when I phone her. Rips my heart out weekly. Headed to her house today. Every good day is a gift.

  4. Yes! The phone book! Oh my mercy, my Nana’s looked just like that.

  5. This summer I read that a Southern woman’s bed has an average of 9 pillows on it (this is actual research data not just pulling numbers out of the air!). The normal range is from 5-13 pillows per bed in the South. Armed with such data, I am now able to calmly refute my husband (the scientist) that we do not have too many pillows on our bed as that we live in the South and I am from the South and I am a scientist too. ;)

  6. Thanks so much for putting the complete copy of the Italian Cream cake recipe. If it’s good enough for your Mama to make 5 of them at a time, I need to give this recipe a try!

  7. Robin Rexroad says:

    Italian Cream Cake is the official cake of my family! My mom makes sure it shows up at every important occasion! Best cake ever invented! My brother and I have fought over the last piece more than once!

  8. Such precious insight into your Mama and Daddy’s home. I threw out phone books and other things they thought they had to have once we cleared their home. Finding Mother’s recipe book and cards with her handwriting was pure treasure. I even had notes from my daddy in the estate papers with little happy faces drawn, smiling through tears it brought me much comfort. Cherish these days as I’m sure you know Sophie. The last 5 years of my parents’ lives were fraught with drs and hospitals and many middle of the night calls and runs to the ER. But I wouldn’t trade a second of it, they went to Jesus 18 days apart and knew beyond measure that we loved and adored them. It is worth it!

  9. Oh, the phone book! At my grandparents’ house they had a phone book for the local area (Albertville) hanging from the wall mounted phone by a ball chain and it was well worn and many names were dog eared and underlined.

  10. I have the poison control hotline number posted inside my kitchen cabinet! I guess that says something about my culinary skills.

  11. Well, then. I would love staying as an overnight guest, because I adore throw pillows. They’re just so pretty and homey! Pillow formations!!!! This description is the absolute best. Just the best!

    I like couches with lots of pillows, too. Though, I admit the idea works better for pictures and magazines, than in real life with children and people actually wanting to use the couches. Ha!

    I rather relate to the taping up quotes and inspiration as well. 😀

    Happy weekend and enjoy your people!!

  12. Everything you spoke of reminds me of my Mama and Daddy’s house in South Arkansas. Mama always wrote things in her cookbooks and the phone book was underlined and always near the phone! But here’s the kicker: I do the very same thing except these days I rarely use a cookbook (even though I have tons of them and LOVE a good cookbook)!! Thanks for the memories this morning!

  13. Sallie Baker says:

    All that was so comforting. Exactly what I would have found at my Mama and Daddy’s house in Texas. Sold the house last year, so those are just memories now. You’ll be glad for the pics!
    A sign of a GREAT recipe is a cookbook page that has splashes and splats and words written on it! Love it!!

  14. Love this post… reminds me of walking through my parent’s home the summer one or both of them was in the hospital twelve weeks straight…
    Prayers said for you and family….

  15. There is something a little sacred about a well used and well noted cookbook. What a treasure. I love having that!

    And the phone book–my mom (may still) used to go through the new phone book and underline the numbers for places we would call often. Neighbors, service station, and the like–all underlined in red each year.

    That’s my people!

  16. Sophie, a friend of mine shared your blog post since she knew I’d relate as she did. I’m a native Mississippian and freelance writer in Birmingham as well so I am delighted to learn of you and your work. I hope to meet you sometime!

  17. I would only add some italics and an underscore. My California-born-and-raised husband doesn’t understand the point of All The Pillows, but does understand that Southern women have all kinds of quirks and little fancies and ways about them, none of which he understands, but all of which add to the delight of being married to one. (His words, not mine!)

    My sweet Mama has taken to having pineapple cake with cream cheese frosting for breakfast. Oftentimes with a side of collards. You know it’s not half bad!

  18. This entire post had me smiling!! I can pretty much relate to all of it except the decorated laundry room. My washer and dryer are out in the garage, and so are my mom’s.

  19. Since the page of your mother’s cookbook appears to have a crinkle, I’m wondering how much buttermilk is used in the recipe for the Italian Cream Cake. Will you kindly send the answer to my email? Thank you very much!

  20. Since you may not have seen my email in the above comment, here it is:

  21. Rachael b says:

    Love. It! 💜

  22. Just one ridiculous question: Did mama make the recipe “five times” or did she multiply it “five times” for one event?


    Nosy Rosie

  23. Hi Sophie: I’m a friend of Barb Sherrill, one of your followers, and she shared this blog with me. I’m the author of the book, Gettin’ Old Ain’t For Wimps, from which came the saying taped to the inside of your mom’s kitchen cabinet. What fun to see it in your blog and to hear the story behind it. May I share this on FaceBook?

  24. You always, always make me laugh, Sophie Hudson…. usually out loud. And for that I love you :) Can’t wait to read your new book!

  25. These comments resonated with me – especially the cookbook and the kitchen cabinets! My grandmother and mother both take notes in their cookbooks, very similar to yours. And the taping of notices/saying/Bible verses in the cabinets – are you kidding!? THE SAME THING. And, as I get older, I catch myself doing the same things. Long live traditions :)